Posted on January 20 2021
Wellingtons first ever Kite Jam kicked off this year, inspired by Morgan Coster's Raglan Kite Jam, and the result was a fun and spectator friendly event.
Several sponsors helped launch this KitesurfNZ/Wellington Kite Academy initiative with enough money to reduce entry fee's, provide small humble prizes and offer medals to mark the occasion.
A solid contingent of volunteers with enough locals willing to participate made this event a solid kite community initiative, so many thanks to all locals who participated and/or contributed!
After some discussion about events throughout NZ in the past it was decided to create the event in a window that offered the best conditions, at the earliest opening of the kite season.
KitesurfNZ lessons begin from Sept 1st (the opening of Spring) through until May 31st (closing of Autumn). Graduates then have the rest of Spring to improve, Summer and Autumn to progress and winter to refine and prepare for the Spring event. This enables full participation for anyone whom would like to join a competitive yet fun and relaxed first event.
For the more experienced riders, there are several categories to ensure, enough challenge to be inspired and competitive.
The judging criteria was set to ensure multi-faceted avenues to win, yet define a clear winner who could dominate a range of disciplines on a twintip board. We used the SICK criteria.
S - Skill: This is a jump or pop. Add a rotation or grab to improve and a kite loop to boost the score to the max.
I - Intensity: All about body control from no control, to unbalanced, to full body control in the air.
C - Completion: Crashing out to flukey landing (Or heavy butt check) to a complete and full stomp sets the mark of a finely executed manoeuvre.
K - Kite control: Tomahawk or kite on water, to some sense of kite recovery or control, to absolutely fluid kite control from pop to stomped landing defines this category of the marking schedule.
Our SICK criteria with three judges, offered a close yet definitive winner in every category.
Having 12 different locations in Wellington with some obvious 'most appealing locations' we were able to move the location to the best possible location to ensure a successful rider/spectator medium.
The conditions offered Mana as our premium event location. The wind, the tide and the location provided a solid benchmark on which to launch arguably, Wellington's premier kitesurfing event.
For some, this was their first event. It's a daunting task for first timers. As kitesurfer, we're used to participating at our leisure: pop down to beach, have a chat, decide on a kite and board, head out and have a blast. Mow the lawns or try your hand at an endless supply of moves or create your own. It really is a sport still in it's infancy. So now add a time frame, a specific boundary and pressure to compete and you realise just how much you've learned (or not learned) since becoming a kitesurfer. It is without question an opportunity to discover where you and your fellow riders are at. It's also a brilliant opportunity to make new friends and challenge each other. Steel sharpens steel as they say.
While there was some fantastic riding on the water there were a few shinanigans off the water as well. Competing is actually a skill in it's own right. As kiters, we turn up, check the conditions, sometimes chat to people, pick a kite, pump up and head out in our own time. In competition, there are timelines, competitors, having to ride to the current conditions. All of which creates pressure and anxiety.
Unfortunately for one of our riders, he was in a bit of rush. Having borrowed his parents car he rustled around in the back of his parents new car at speed, and accidentally knocked over a tub of white marine paint that obviously had a loose lid.... Needless to say Wade found himself in a pickle just before his heat! He completed his heat and placed 1st eventually, in the open teens final!
The Masters and Vets finals were an absolute treat for the audience that lined the beach. The riders gave it their absolute all!
The format allowed movement of the event. We were able to make last minute calls to ensure we had a great location with good wind. The volunteers were brilliant and our judges had a proper taste of good competition with which to use the new criteria.
2021 promises to be and new and improved version to build on an already stable format. With a clear format and template, solid local support and quality sponsors, there is no doubt the 2021 comp will have it's own set of stories and unique flavour. Can't wait to see some new riders and rider progression for the year!
Full results here.